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Monday, December 14, 2015

#Yesterday and Today...and Tomorrow

I've had a jumble of earworms attacking me. And it's not Jingle Bell Rock or Santa Claus is Coming to Town. Nope. It's more like:

*she was a daytripper. one way ticket yeah*it's been a hard day's night, I should be sleepin like a log*in my life, I love you more*woke up, fell out of bed, dragged a comb across my head...

To be fair, those last group of lyrics (A Day in the Life) run through my head almost every morning. But I can mostly attribute all the Beatles brain tromp to a wonderful little show we attended on Saturday night at the Omaha Playhouse: Yesterday and Today, an interactive Beatles experience. Billy McGuigan and his company of brothers and band members (which happens to include an old high school friend, Jay Hanson–oh yeah, I'm totally name-dropping) rock it. I mean ROCK it.

I like music. A lot, really. At one time in my life, a long time ago, I started down a path to pursue it as a career. Quickly I learned there were others who were much more passionate and infinitely more talented than me. These musicians are known as entertainers–those people who lift your spirits with an art form transcending words. I happen to believe (because of my limited experience) it takes much more than sheer talent to be an entertainer (of any kind). I knew Jay in high school and he was a very good, talented musician back then. But I recognized on Saturday night that he's paid some dues to become as good as he is now–a true entertainer.

The night was a tribute to The Beatles and to the McGuigan brothers' late father. In the book Outliers, Malcom Gladwell attributes the tremendous success of The Beatles to the thousands of hours they played in pubs across England. (It wasn't all talent, goes Gladwell's theory.) The McGuigan boys credited their military father for inspiring them with music at a young age. There aren't many military men who don't ascribe to a work ethic. We watched a heartfelt video which captured the three brothers always playing or singing. Again, hard work.

And thank goodness for us. The audience.

Music is an incredible equalizer. When your mood is sour or you're just a wee bit upset, what else can either lift your spirit or smooth a rough edge? Obviously, everyone has their musical preferences, but how about them Beatles heh? So prolific, generation-spanning, and stunningly relevant. There was an 8-year-old kid at the show who I witnessed mouthing the lyrics better than most. So cute.

I think most people at the show (except the cute 8-year-old) found themselves transported to another time. (Billy McGuigan ensured this–not only through the fabulous music, but through his witty and playful banter with the crowd.) But as a song began, I found myself a kid in my parents' living room trying to decide between the Red album, the Blue album or Sergeant Peppers Lonely Heart Club Band. Tough Decisions in those days. The least scratched record would win. I loved Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds. Maybe not everyone's favorite. But I loved the imagery. I loved singing along. I loved the gentle beginning and the jamming chorus–the beloved musical recipe of most. Especially for a ten-year-old girl. I wanted to be Lucy, whoever she was, in the sky. Diamonds would've been nice too.

They say that the majority of families who visit Disney World go back again–what a great indicator of success. Most of the crowd on Saturday night had "roared" they already been to Yesterday and Today, at least once. One lady shouted out it had been her eighth time. Apparently, she doesn't have anything better to do. Kidding. The show is really good. Great actually. We are already planning to attend again, this time with our kids. Could we give a higher compliment? Maybe if we were to skip a trip to Disney for the show. Maybe.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015


My husband and I took our annual holiday shopping trip today. As usual, for the most part, the day was fairly enjoyable. But there's always that tipping point for my hubby–that moment when the wrong move, wrong comment, wrong reaction will turn the day into something like a funeral, without the pretty music. That's why we cope by stopping the madness of purchase, no matter what, and catch a movie. Today we went to see Brooklyn. And it was delightful.

There are lots of opinions about immigration right now. This is no political blog, so don't go looking for a stance. But we just watched a movie which artfully depicts an immigrant's experience in the 1950's. In Brooklyn, a young Irish girl comes to America to find a better life. (The movie is a clever, well-acted romance, I'd highly recommend for a date night. Or girls night. Or family night. It's actually quite versatile.) As I watched the girl leave her family and the familiarity of her Irish/Catholic customs and community, it dawned on me how terribly courageous and difficult it would have been (and is) to leave everything you know and love for the unknown. Eventually, the girl has the opportunity to go back to Ireland or stay in Brooklyn. The choice doesn't come easy. I won't spoil the ending. Anyway, she eventually has to define where her home is. Powerful stuff.

What is home?

When Alex was back a few weeks ago on break, she made a comment about when she'd be heading "home," aka Iowa City.  I quickly corrected her by saying, "You are home. You're going back to college." She paused. Then sort of glossed over the subject. The truth is, I get it. I know she loves where she's at right now. She feels she belongs there. I know she also feels she can come here anytime as well and feel...home. But she wants to be in Iowa City right now.

That's the true definition of home, isn't it–wherever you belong. It's almost a state of being, not really a place. When you're home, you're...home. It doesn't matter what house or city you happen to be in. What matters? Are you safe? Are you loved? Can you love?

Home is a pretty easy concept when we share similar values and ideas. It gets more complicated when we vary outside the norm of our traditions. Many people aren't prone to celebrating differences. Just some. I don't think they realize it. But the United States has about as good of a start as any country on the planet. And it all started with some immigrants, a while ago. We're still trying to adjust to each other, I think.